A fugitive’s wife charged with violating the Passport Law argued Wednesday in the first session of her trial that a government order to surrender her passport in 1988 was without grounds and unfair.

Takako Konishi, 56, whose husband is wanted along with other members of the Japanese Red Army Faction in the hijacking of a Japan Airlines jetliner to Pyongyang in 1970, pleaded not guilty to the violation as her Tokyo District Court trial kicked off.

Konishi did not dispute that she failed to surrender her passport in time.

According to the government, public peace in Japan would be disrupted if she were allowed to keep her passport. But Konishi’s defense counsel told the court this reasoning is unjust, adding that it was impossible for her to comply with the order as she was living in North Korea at the time and was unaware the order had been issued.

The Foreign Ministry ordered Konishi to surrender her passport in August 1988, claiming she had contact in Copenhagen on two occasions in 1982 with a North Korean diplomat believed to be an intelligence agent.

Prosecutors said in their opening statement that Konishi met the agent as part of activities to tempt Japanese nationals in Europe to join a group of Japanese, mostly the JAL hijackers and their families, who were living in North Korea.

Konishi left Japan for North Korea in 1975 and married Takahiro Konishi, the alleged leader of the Red Army Faction. Japanese police placed her on an international wanted list in June 1993 after she failed to surrender her passport, according to the indictment.

She returned to Japan two months ago with one of her North Korean-born daughters and the children of four other hijacking fugitives. She was arrested upon her arrival.

Members of the Red Army Faction were granted asylum in Pyongyang when the hijacked jet landed there in March 1970. The JAL plane was bound from Tokyo to Fukuoka when it was commandeered.

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